Hijab Ban: SC asks if the right to practice religion can be taken to school with the prescribed uniform

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The Supreme Court made this observation on Monday while debating the Karnataka Hijab ban controversy: “A person has the right to practise religion, but the question is whether it can be taken to a school with a defined uniform.” The top court questioned whether a student can wear a hijab to a school where a uniform is required, during hearings on a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court decision refusing to overturn the prohibition on hijab in state educational institutions. “You may have the freedom to practise any religion you choose, but can you exercise that freedom in a school where wearing a uniform is a required aspect of dress?” That will be the question,” said a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia.

Senior attorney Sanjay Hegde, who was arguing on behalf of some of the petitioners, was asked the query by the supreme court. Regarding the claim that the hijab prohibition may prevent women from receiving an education, the bench pointed out that the state is not asserting any rights being denied. The state is requesting that you wear the required uniform for students, which reads. Hegde emphasised that what the supreme court rules, in this case, will have an impact on a significant portion of society’s educational opportunities. He also made mention of the 1983 Karnataka Education Act’s provisions.

The matter, according to Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K M Nataraj, is quite narrow and concerns institutional discipline. The ASG responded, “Someone in the presence of his religious practice or religious right cannot argue that I am entitled to do this therefore I wish to violate the discipline of the school,” when the court questioned him about how the discipline in a school is infringed if a girl child wears a hijab. In reference to a state decision issued on February 5, 2022, Karnataka attorney general Prabhuling Navadgi noted that certain Muslim girls had appealed the state’s restriction on clothing that interferes with equality, integrity, and public order in schools and colleges.

Savage argued it was not the state but educational institutions concerned that prescribed uniforms. “This government order does not interdict any of the rights of the students,” he said during the arguments which will continue on September 7.

Hijab as an essential practice

In addition to appearing in the case, senior attorney Rajeev Dhavan pointed to Article 145(3) of the Constitution and said it is a subject of great significance. The article deals with the bare minimum of judges necessary to settle any significant legal issue involving constitutional interpretation. Regarding whether or not wearing a hijab falls under Article 25 of the Constitution, the bench stated, “The problem can be slightly modified in a different approach. It might be necessary or it might not.” “We are addressing whether you can insist on maintaining your religious practice while working for the government. Because ours is a secular country, as stated in the Preamble, “The bench kept watch.

Dhavan stated that millions of women who adhere to the dress code in educational institutions but also desire to wear the hijab are affected by the issue brought before the court. The apex court’s ruling, in this case, will be of utmost importance, he added, adding that “the whole world will listen” to what it rules. The Karnataka Education Act does not provide for the prescription of a dress code, thus the question would then be whether the Act forbids dress codes, the court noted during the arguments. The bench asked, “Can the students come in minis, midis, whatever they want?” According to Hegde, the state’s executive branch cannot violate fundamental rights. Last Monday, the Karnataka government received notice from the Supreme Court regarding these arguments.

Karnataka HC order

The Karnataka High Court’s March 15 ruling that the wearing of the hijab is not a component of the fundamental religious practise that can be protected under Article 25 of the Constitution has been challenged in a number of applications filed with the Supreme Court. A group of Muslim students from the Government Pre-University Girls College in Udupi petitioned the high court to be allowed to wear the hijab in class, but it was denied. According to the high court, the need of wearing school uniforms is just a reasonable constraint that is constitutionally allowed and to which the pupils cannot protest.

The petitioner claimed the high court “erred in creating a duality between freedom of religion and freedom of conscience wherein the court has inferred that those who follow a religion cannot have the right to conscience” in one of the arguments submitted to the highest court. “The high court neglected to mention that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution’s right to privacy includes the freedom to wear a headscarf. It is argued that the right to privacy includes the freedom of conscience “It read. Challenging the February 5 order of the government, the petitioners had argued before the high court that wearing the Islamic headscarf was an innocent practice of faith and an Essential Religious Practice (ERP) and not a display of religious jingoism.

Mayank Tewari

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